[Sinn Fein]

26th September 2002

Report is an indictment of political corruption over decades

Commenting on the Interim Report of the Flood Tribunal, Sinn Fein Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

``This report is not only an indictment of former Minister Ray Burke and those associated with him in planning and broadcasting corruption, it is also a damning commentary on the degeneration of politics over decades in this State.

``Ray Burke abused his position as an elected representative at local and central government level. He was able to do so because a political culture had developed in which big business, especially the construction industry, had privileged access to government and could expect special benefits from powerful politicians in return for money. The planning process was totally undermined and those with wealth and privilege could by-pass the laws which governed ordinary citizens.

``The conclusions on Century Radio are equally appalling. In return for a personal payment Minister Burke corrupted the broadcasting process, giving lucrative favoured treatment to Century Radio and penalising RTÉ.

``There should now be an investigation into the sweetheart deal brokered by Ray Burke and enjoyed by the consortium currently exploiting the massive Corrib gas field off the coast of County Mayo. This gas field is a hugely valuable national resource but it has been virtually handed over to a private company.

``Sinn Fein has consistently argued for the deal brokered by Ray Burke in 1992 to be renegotiated. The deal ensured that the consortium led by Enterprise (and since sold to Royal Dutch Shell) has not had to pay one penny in royalties to the government for the Corrib Gas find. The consortium can write off exploration expenses against any tax payable. Income is taxed at 25% - the lowest rate for Oil or Gas exploration in Europe. Compare this to the world average of 40%. The fact that somebody with Ray Burke's now proven corrupt record was centrally involved in this deal has to raise questions about the nature of the negotiation and its outcome.''

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